I plan to head up valley and around the east side of the DNR hill, where I haven't been, yet. Dense brush and blackberries have turned me back twice, both times with hiking partners that didn't need to abuse themselves that much. The water in the slough is down quite a bit and where it was thigh deep on my last trip, it is just ankle deep. The winter seems to have pushed the blackberries down to a level where I can strategically dance step them to ground...I just walk on top of most of them.
I find a witness tree with its shiny aluminum plate. It was placed on August 22, 1996 and notes that I am on the line between sections 9 and 16 of Township 32N, Region 6E. It is unusual in that the surveyors have listed their names - Olsen, Herrick, Carlson, and Lonpher (hard to read that last one). I cross the slough nearby near a silted in beaver dam.
There is a nice game trail climbing cross slope and easterly. Soon, it coincides with the timber boundary, so it may be a man/animal mutual trail, although I doubt anyone has walked this in a couple years. I stop to photograph myself with a couple of fine old cedar stumps. I also grumble silently about the ridiculous amount of stuff that I have put in my field pack today. I move on.
Squirming through brush and fallen alder, I dream of "losing" the damned machete that keeps hanging up on everything (because it strapped to my pack - useless piece of shit tool that it is, unless you want to open up your shin, of course). I talked myself into taking the hazard because of the blackberries, but it has to be a lot worse than this before I start swinging a rusty dull samurai sword with only me in killing range
I come out to an amazing cedar stump. She is thoroughly wrapped in the roots of her offspring and leans out over the hill above a sandy depression left by the falling of another tree. Parts of her, huge red-brown blocks, dangle in the air like jewelry suspended by thin strands of root. I feel something off. There is a sense of something amiss here, something dark that I do not want to know about. She is not to be photographed, and it is not a place to linger. I'm not one for spirits and ghosts, but I came to the forest to feel, and it is only foolishness to deny a feeling, even if it doesn't figure. I circle up high and wide around her. She disappears in the brush not too soon. I will avoid her on the return, I am not supposed to be there, and I don't know why, but I don't want to be there.
|logjam in the upper slough|
I drop down onto the slough and follow it up river. This might be the most interesting terrain that I have seen in awhile. One branch is a series of beaver dams and ponds. I think it leads to a drainage coming off of the hill. The main channel is broader and shows frequent high water. It connects to the river farther up. It is choked with log jams, but the going is relatively easy. It takes me to a fine gravel bar in the Stillaguamish where I sit for a time and end the days exploring.
Just as I near the log bridge while returning to the barn, I hear frogs and frogs and frogs singing out in the wet field under the hill. I am watching a snipe when the frogs all go silent, all at once. I take a knee and wait, wondering what has scared the frogs. I wait for a 1/2 hour. Still the frogs are silent.